Preparing a Place

Sometimes the best, most life-giving things in the life of a church evolve without a great deal of planning. They emerge out of daily life without meetings, without a line-item in the budget, without a major marketing campaign or overhaul of policy.

A few weeks ago, I overheard my yoga instructor say that she was looking for a Tuesday morning gig. I said, “I know of a place…” And before i knew it, there were 7 of us gathered in the narthex on mats, engaged in community, mindfulness, and of course, the art of being present. Not to mention a healing physical practice. There was very little ‘work’ that went into gathering those people in that place. I just knew this particular instructor offered something that my folks (and neighbors we don’t know yet!) were hungry for, and I made an invitation of it. Ministry at its best (and easiest!)

But… (and there is always a but, when something is that easy)… How many years of ‘work,’ and how many people, and what kind of resources, and how many other countless invitations and benedictions, went into creating the space for this new ministry?

Here’s what i saw from my mat on the floor… Two beautiful stain-glass windows, a long-ago gift, given in memory of a loved one; a diverse array of colorful crosses on the wall, gathered from many people and places, and artfully arranged by a crafty church lady; just out the windows, a peace pole, some nicely-pruned trees, and a welcoming, recently-resurfaced parking lot–all of which took some major money and ‘doing’ and many hours of labor; and the very windows, clean and shiny, recently relieved of dusty, ancient blinds and dark, ugly sunscreens–also the work of many pairs of hands and eyes; and finally, the floor on which we lay, a lovely, rustic (reasonably clean!) stained concrete, where just a short time ago was dingy tile and carpet that–well, it just defied description. Let’s just say it was past its prime, and even in its prime, served as more function than fashion.

The recent transformation of the sanctuary and gathering space was costly; it took time and took some heavy lifting by many hands. Old window coverings thrown away to let in the light. Old floor coverings torn away to reveal the natural beauty of the space. New paraments sewn with love. Furniture for visiting and relaxing, where there used to be…well, just piles of stuff. In that space yesterday (in my state of hyper-awareness) i was reminded that nothing in ministry is easy. Even the stuff that seems easy took hours, months, years of vision, labor, investment and yes, faith, on the part of an entire community.

And while nothing comes easy, the best things do, in fact, happen naturally, organically, and in the perfect timing of the Spirit. I wanted to gut that sanctuary 5 years ago. But we weren’t ready. We didn’t have the money, or the hands, or the identity, to make that space what it needed to be. As I faced my warrior 2 out the south window yesterday, I gave thanks for the many seeds that were planted in faith; the many years of pruning and prayer; the many gifts of memory and tradition; and the creative vision and spirit of this congregation, all working to prepare a place of welcome, worship and service…for me, and for all those who gather; for this new ministry, and for the next one that will emerge with seeming grace and ease, thanks to the work of many hands and hearts.

God is good.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://www.facebook.com/hollie.ancharoff Hollie Larkey Ancharoff

    Love this, and not just because I’m a yogi! It’s wonderful to consider that all the small things (and not so small) that one does on any given day sometimes, at the right time, pay big dividends when you stop to notice.. And keep doing the work.


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